Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Realism Art exhibition - Hermitage Museum - St. Petersburg

Hermitage museum was founded by Catherine the Great of Russian Empire in 1764. It is one of the oldest museums in the world. It was opened to the public view by Tsars since 1852. After the revolution Soviet Authorities were careful to preserve over 3 million artefacts.

During the second world war Hermitage Museum was hit by German bombs. The main building was damaged heavily. During the  blockade by the Germans most valued artefacts were removed to different safe places.   After the war Hermitage building was restored to the former glory.

We went to Hermitage museum  to see creations  of famous artists like Picasso, Monet etc. I will post those pictures in my next blog post. What we unexpectedly visited was the exhibition called "Realism" showed in General Staff Building.

I remember during the time of the  soviet union everyone talked about Socialist Realism in art. However most of the socialist artworks, films ended up singing hosannas to socialist system of governance and to Soviet communist party. Heavy debate raged in countries with socialist traditions to follow such a rigid worldview. Therefore it was quite interesting see such a theme again in Russia.

This is  the part of the introduction:

"Why is realism such a relevant topic today? The realisms Project at the hermitage is an attempt to answer that question. The project is based on a multilateral conversation about the form and idealogy of realism, which encompasses the entire permanent display in the General Staff Building, where the collection of nineteenth to twenty-first-century art is housed since 2015.

Rich in terminology, the twentieth century knew many "Realisms": Hyper-, Sur-,Photo-,Social, magical Realism and many more. Since the end of the century, the realistic trend has been making itself felt and arousing greater interest. the original foundation of the realist approach - the search for reality - is a simple creative method which is aimed at self-knowledge. From a narrative art in the Old master's paintings, realism today has developed into a technically and psychologically complex system of references which deals with a subjectivist view of the objective world.

Perceptions of reality change and depend on the current personal and social priorities. Now this has become relevant once again. Art absorbs such changes and produces a different image of reality every time. the works of contemporary artists represented at the exhibition offer their own references. Each of them, nevertheless, is a clear blueprint of existential experience of the time, with a potential for metaphors, allusions, codes, symbolic meanings and cultural associations.

The Hyperrealist sculpture F*ck'd(Couple) (Gary Tatinstian Collection , USA) by the American artist Tony Matelli uses a technically innovative method to imitate the visceral poignancy and touching nature of the sensual reality."


The other two artists contributing the exhibition are American Artist Jim Shaw and British Painter Mitch Griffiths. British artist's works are closest to the paradigm of classic realism.
21st century boy by Mitch Griffiths


A work featured in one of Griffiths' earliest solo exhibitions, this sharply satirical piece explores how modern society worships wealth, status and fame. The crown of credit cards may symbolise the narcissistic pseudo-values which dominate in today's society of mock kings and false idols.

Gorgon - Mitch Griffiths

A direct reference to Caravaggio's painting of Medusa, the Gorgon queen who, according to Greek mythology petrified those who gazed upon her. However, Griffith's Gorgon is so saturated with oil that her eyes are sealed shut and her power curbed, calling into question the human cost of commercial and industrial interests and demonization of those who stand in the way of industrial 'progress'



"There have always been two schools of thought in painting: That of the idealists and that of Realists. "-Theophile Gautier

Weight of Panic - Mitch Griffiths
They Love me, They Love me Not - Mitch Griffiths United Kingdom

Picture above and below questions the body worship through exercise regimes and obsession with weight.  Next picture shows a man obsessed with his body and women with her face while woman standing next to her lost one of her breast from cancer.
Drone - Mitch Griffiths
"Exploring the commercialisation and glamorisation of armed warfare in certain media outlets which borrow their imagery from computer games, the very title of this work is direct reference to a particular type of pilotless aircraft or missile.  It represents the contemporary disconnect between the zombified viewer and the real horrors of war. The sexualised female soldier and the smartphone tied to her gun underscores the unreal nature of this image. "

Bridge of Genes - Mitch Griffiths
"This painting communicates the historical ties between fathers and sons. A reference to the popular trope in renaissance painting wherein each figure clasps the tools of their trade, falling leaves appear to capture the passing of time through generations, both dividing and bringing together the parent and child."
Triptych First Person Shooter - Call of Duty -  Mitch Griffiths

Modern Warfare - Mitch Griffiths

Finest Hour - Mitch Griffiths 
"The title of this Triptych alludes to a type of video game in which a shooter must move towards their goal by killing everyone in their way.  The artist depicts a British Soldier who is displayed to take part in international conflict and where  every day faces moral choice between following his duty and committing a crime."

The things they carried - Mitch Griffiths - Amid a backdrop of smoke and destruction, a soldier is hauling away a young refugee women who has been forced to flee her homeland. Perhaps a reference to the contemporary devastation of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, this work evokes the tragic fate of displacement as well as the image of a 'savior of culture' and his inevitable historical role.

"Thouh the objects themselves may be painful to see, we delight to view the most realistic representations of them in art - the forms, for example, of the lowest animals of dead bodies. The explanation is to be found in a further fact: to be learning something is the greatest of pleasures, not only to the philosopher, but also to the rest of the humanity, however small our capacity for it. The reason of the delight in seeing the picture is that one is at the same time learning - gathering the meaning of things.".- .Aristotle
Closet - Ilya and Emiliya Kabakov
Complete exhibition is in my facebook page and in Google+. If you copy please make sure you mention artist's names and place of the exhibition.


Links to the exhibition information 
About Mitch Griffin

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